Sunday, 10 February 2013

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

One of the beauties of studying in the Netherlands is its location – the gateway to so many adventures! On the break between semesters I took a trip with a friend to the southern coast of Spain to get a little sunshine. Sangria, paella, tapas, miles and miles of sparkling beaches, and all those lovely white villages dotting the coast! Stumbling along with beginner Spanish, making new friends, exploring the local markets and trying new food. My friend and I decided to take coach tours to some of the further destinations, like Alhambra in Granada. Alas, new food and bus tours, not always such a great mix! “I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you!” ―Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

We boarded the coach to Alhambra before the sun came up. My first indication that the trip might not go as planned was the sharp, stabbing pain in my gut that I initially attributed to too much food and not enough sleep. Hoping it would pass (and that those nearby would not notice!), I sat back and tried to relax. However, my misery increased exponentially with every mile, branching out to include nausea and suddenly feeling very hot. And then… I passed out! My friend tells me that a great deal of consternation and alarm ensued, of which I remember nothing beyond waking up lying outside the bus with lots of faces hovering over me. Much to my chagrin, they insisted on calling an ambulance, and so I wound up in an ER in Granada. Definitely NOT on the itinerary! It was not exactly a conversational Spanish opportunity and as nobody at the hospital spoke English, I just pointed at my gut and grimaced as they poked and prodded. Finally it was determined that I was suffering from gastroenteritis and dehydration (sadly, treated with an IV and not more Sangria!), and I was released a few hours later with a prescription for antibiotics.  

The surprising thing about the experience was in not having to deal with the usual reams of paperwork entailing proof of insurance, a credit card and promise of your first born child so common in American ERs. My friend had given them my Dutch residence permit and student ID, and I was presented with no paperwork beyond discharge instructions. I filled the prescription at a local pharmacy incredibly cheaply. And so, my gut no longer in revolt, we took a cab into Alhambra, found our coach and went back to our hotel, missing out on the palace but having quite the adventure nonetheless!  

After a few happily less exciting day trips in Spain, we flew back to the Netherlands, going from sunny beaches to big, fat snowflakes swirling outside the window of the train to Utrecht. A quick stop at a local café for paprika soup and thick, wonderfully hearty Dutch bread, and back home in the midst of the cheerful bustle of activity in the city center. It’s carnival season! As welcome a respite from winter and the study load such adventures may be, the best part about studying in the Netherlands is coming back!

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